Vintage Pulp Jun 10 2023
She was bound to have trouble.

1953's Give the Little Corpse a Great Big Hand by George Bagby, aka Aaron Marc Stein, is a murder tale in classic whodunnit style about a burlesque performer named Goldie Gibbs who's debuting a routine at the famed but fictive Limehouse Club in which she's wrapped like a mummy and carried onstage in a golden coffin from which she rises and strips. Unfortunately, Goldie never rises because she's been murdered. On the case is New York City homicide inspector No-First-Name Schmidt.

Schmidt had been a franchise character for Babgy since 1936 and would eventually star in fifty-plus novels, the last in 1983. Here he cycles through various suspects with incisive questioning, and soon finds links between the murder, the local organized crime kingpin, and a spate of jewel robberies that happened the same night, while also learning that a colleague's daughter who sings at the Limehouse Club has some connection to the crime—unwittingly, beyond a doubt, because she's a “sweet kid.”

This and the other Schmidt books are narrated not by the inspector, but by a journalist named George Bagby—yes, same as the author—who publishes the tales in a magazine. From first person point-of-view Bagby gives readers the procedural details of the case, while also admiring his friend's great intelligence. Give the Little Corpse a Great Big Hand is mostly interrogations and speculations. While we've grown to prefer authors who build books a bit more around action, Bagby/Stein's all-brains approach works fine, and for whodunnit fans we'd call this a necessary read.

Moving on to the cover, it was painted by Victor Kalin and it's a nice effort, capturing the doomed Gibbs' shimmery gold mummy wrapping as described in the text, but taking a non-literal approach otherwise. We guess painting a dead woman in a coffin wasn't considered enticing, so Kalin came up with this moment that doesn't occur in the story but mirrors her distress. He made the right decision, and the result is eye-catching, as usual with his work. Check here, here, and here for examples.

History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
December 08
1980—John Lennon Killed
Ex-Beatle John Lennon is shot four times in the back and killed by Mark David Chapman in front of The Dakota apartment building in New York City. Chapman had been stalking Lennon since October, and earlier that evening Lennon had autographed a copy of his album Double Fantasy for him.
December 07
1941—Japanese Attack Pearl Harbor
The Imperial Japanese Navy sends aircraft to attack the U.S. Pacific Fleet and its defending air forces at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. While the U.S. lost battleships and other vessels, its aircraft carriers were not at Pearl Harbor and survived intact, robbing the Japanese of the total destruction of the Pacific Fleet they had hoped to achieve.
December 06
1989—Anti-Feminist Gunman Kills 14
In Montreal, Canada, at the École Polytechnique, a gunman shoots twenty-eight young women with a semi-automatic rifle, killing fourteen. The gunman claimed to be fighting feminism, which he believed had ruined his life. After the killings he turns the gun on himself and commits suicide.
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